Analyst Intel

21 January 2020

ACROSS THE RAILS | Shaky start to the new year at the saleyards

By Suz Bremner

Now that we are a few weeks into sales for 2020, we have a pretty clear picture of how they are playing out. 

It would be fair to say it has been a shaky start, with drops in schedules over the break continuing to hamper any upwards movement in the prime markets. The store markets are always at the mercy of the weather gods at this time of year and when one looks at a soil moisture deficit map and it shows nearly 80% of the country being somewhere between orange and red (dry or very dry), then it is hardly surprising to see that demand for stock has also dried up.

After the two-week break North Island store lamb prices started below where they finished in December and have tracked along that path. Stortford Lodge and Matawhero averaged $93-$98 for the first two weeks of the year, for average weights at 27-29kg. Many in Manawatu would rather forget the first Feilding sale, where 22,000 lambs struggled to find homes and the market averaged $93 for 31kg. That was rectified to some extent the following week, though, as 7000 averaged $101 for 32kg. 

In the South Island, throughput has been steady for the time of year and since sales kicked off Temuka has averaged $84-$99 for 23-29kg, while Canterbury Park sits at $83-$90 for 24-26kg.

A snapshot of a few classes of cattle around the North Island yards has seen 2.5-year traditional steers, 500-580kg, make $2.90-$2.99/kg, though most of the limited action has been in the yearling pens. Traditional steers varied from $2.98/kg to $3.10/kg and heifers, $2.60/kg to $2.85/kg. Yearling Hereford-Friesian steers have largely ranged from $2.90/kg to $3.20/kg, though weights have also varied significantly from 260kg up to 420kg. Heifers of same breed have also been variable at $2.54/kg to $2.85/kg for the majority. South Island trading has been very limited with no market indicators to gather up.

Ex-service bulls are abundant in dairy regions and generally selling well to a mixture of fatteners and dairy farmers.